With the 'target list' of natural and artificial agents in mind, and focusing on their common characteristics, I can now propose a working definition of agency. At its core, agency is the ability to act. And that action has certain qualities: it serves some purpose, it has a direction towards some utility. Today, I'll offer a short defining phrase and then unpack its meaning piece by piece.
The path(s) to artificial agency
Across the categories of organizations, technologies, and socio-technical systems, we can identify three principle paths to artificial agency. Ultimately, they all originate from human agency; but the degree of human deliberation varies considerably.
Socio-technical systems as artificial agents
This third group of artificial agents sits somewhere between organization and technology, as a blend of both. To understand the agency of socio-technical systems, it is helpful to remember that they belong to the complex adaptive systems. They are open, dynamic, and nonlinear; and they exhibit emergence and resilience.
Studies in innovation – An initial curriculum
In order to frame the concept of innovation literacy, today I’ll try to sketch a curriculum for “Studies in Innovation”, focussing on “How to think about innovation?” My story line will build on three guiding questions: What is the world around us made up of? How does that world behave? And how do we act in this world? While I'll keep my focus on the needs of innovators and policy makers, I believe the essence of this little programme should be of interest to a wider audience.
How to have more insights
The cognitive psychologist Gary Klein proposed the triple path model to explain how we have insights. Furthermore, Klein systematically searched for hindrances and encouragements to having insight. It should be interesting to compare his findings with Steven Johnson's analysis of the conditions that make good ideas flourish. Good ideas need insights, and conditions for the success of one should promote the other. Let's find out.